It’s not been the best of summers for Tom Cruise. But if you thought the knives were out for Cruise after Katie Holmes blindsided him with a divorce filing on June 28 — then you haven’t met Maureen Orth.
Infamous hit-piece journalist or ‘special correspondent’ (take your pick), Orth’s latest upcoming article which will be published this week in VanityFair’s October issue, is an all guns blazing attack on Tom Cruise and the Church of Scientology.
In a Sunday teaser for the article, among the flotilla of devastating allegations, Orth claims the Church held secret “wife auditions” for Cruise in 2004.
This search, allegedly headed by Shelly Miscavige, the then (not estranged), wife of Scientology leader David Miscavige.
Orth’s article goes on to quote a number of sources to allege that the church auditioned various actresses (who were also Scientologists) for the role of “lucky” bride under the pretense of a “training film.”
One such source, Marc Headley (a lifelong scientologist who left the church in 2005 with police help), says he watched several, audition videotapes in his capacity as head of the church’s in-house studio.
“It’s not like you only have to please your husband—you have to toe the line for Scientology,” Headley told Orth.
According to Orth, Nazanin Boniadi, “an Iranian-born, London-raised actress and Scientologist” was eventually selected and dated Cruise from November 2004-January 2005. As part of her “training” Boniadi was put through daily audits (Scientology-speak for invasive psyche sessions), given specific instructions to change her appearance, and also played an audit tape of her, then, current boyfriend to catalyse their break up.
After being wooed in an oddly, overwhelming manner by Cruise, it’s claimed Boniadi “offended” both Miscavige and Cruise and was eventually iced out of the arrangement to mate with the actor. Church officials then allegedly asked Boniadi to move out of Cruise’s house. Sent to live in the Scientology Celebrity Centre, the actress was told Cruise “wants someone with her own power— like Nicole.”
At this point Orth’s article descends into typical ‘Scientology-is-dastardly’ tropes claiming Boniadi was forced to “scrub toilets with a toothbrush, clean bathroom tiles with acid, and dig ditches in the middle of the night. ”
To cut a long story short, once Boniadi’s ‘arranged relationship’ with Cruise went south Orth alleges she was essentially treated like a leper. For their part, a Scientology spokesperson has denied Vanity Fair’s allegations:
“The Church does not punish people, especially in [that] manner.”
“The entire story is hogwash. There was no project, secret or otherwise, ever conducted by the Church to find a bride (audition or otherwise) for any member of the church. The allegation and entire premise of the Vanity Fair article is totally false . . . We have been denying this ridiculous tale now since it first appeared in print four years ago.”
Vanity Fair promise Orth’s article will also reveal “Miscavige’s alleged indiscretions with audit reports of high-profile Scientologists,” details about how Katie Holmes’s pre-nuptial agreement with Cruise “filled five bankers boxes,” and “why … Bella and Connor [Cruise] were estranged from their mother Nicole [Kidman, whom Cruise divorced in 2001].”
Responding to Vanity Fair’s allegations Cruise’s rep has come out fighting, releasing this statement:
“Lies in a different font are still lies – designed to sell magazines.”
Unfortunately for Cruise and — by extension — Scientology, Orth’s accusations are given further credence by Oscar winning writer-director Paul Haggis (Crash.) In two emails to Roger Friedman — former Fox journalist, now at Showbiz 411 — Haggis, a former high ranking Scientologist who now calls the church a “cult” corroborated Orth’s allegations:
“I’ve known Nazanin for about three years. I met her through a mutual friend when I was doing my own personal research into the allegations against Scientology, before I wrote my letter of resignation. Naz was embarrassed by her unwitting involvement in this incident and never wanted it to come out, so I kept silent,” says Haggis.
“However I was deeply disturbed by how the highest ranking members of a church could so easily justify using one of their members; how they so callously punished her and then so effectively silenced her when it was done. It wasn’t just the threats; they actually made her feel ashamed, when all she had been was human and trusting.”
Haggis’ second email adding,
“And FYI, in case this wasn’t clear, Naz quietly and privately resigned from the church a couple of years ago after several years of trying to handle this injustice internally, to no avail.”
Despite the fact Orth has previously been accused of dubious sourcing [see Orth's reports on Michael Jackson], the cumulative weight of Haggis’ corroboration (someone who knows of what he speaks) and previous rumors of ‘bride hunting’ a la Scarlett Johansson, Jessica Alba and Penelope Cruz, is now being interpreted by many as the death knell for Cruise’s credibility in Hollywood.
Back in August 2006 when Cruise was summarily ejected from a 14 year relationship with Paramount Pictures, Viacom chief Sumner Redstone told the Wall Street Journal:
“His recent conduct has not been acceptable to Paramount.”
Redstone also took the unprecedented step of accusing Cruise of committing “creative suicide” with his couch-jumping antics and divisive, public statements about psychiatry.
Although humiliated by his expulsion from Paramount, Cruise recovered enough to power 2011’s Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol to a $694,713,380 gross, with the entire franchise banking over $ 2 billion worldwide.
But after a long,difficult summer in which Cruise’s lawyer, Bert Fields, has earned his not inconsiderable fee attempting to put out numerous fires for his client, industry observers and commentators are now wondering if Vanity Fair and Orth have finally tipped the balance for Cruise’s ‘top gun’ reign in Hollywood.
Roger Friedman observes,
“For Vanity Fair to take this on brings the discussion to a higher level than when it’s been in a tabloid.”
“It’s also going to make it nearly a mission impossible for Cruise to publicity for his next film at Christmas without all of this being a major issue. Cruise may now have a seat next to Mel Gibson in Hollywood’s permanant penalty box.”